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Harry reborn in bronze

AT 14 feet high and brandishing a sword, he's certainly eye-catching as these exclusive pictures show.

And in just under a month, the magnificent new statue of legendary Northumbrian knight, Sir Henry "Hotspur" Percy, will be hoisted into place at the Duke's Memorial Garden on Pottergate in Alnwick, just yards from the castle which was his home more than six centuries ago.

The massive bronze was commissioned by the town's development trust and spearheaded by a committee of volunteers drawn from across the community.

Costing just under 60,000 – of which Hotspur's ancestor, Ralph, 12th Duke of Northumberland, footed a substantial portion – it will be finally unveiled on August 20, after almost two years of painstaking work by Elsdon-based sculptor Keith Maddison.

The attention to detail is eye-watering, with the statue capturing the essence of the medieval warlord right down to the rivets in his armour.

Keith even made each individual link of chainmail during the construction of the full-size clay model, which was used to create the moulds for Black Isle Bronze to cast the final version.

His passion has been fuelled not only by the local theme, but the reason behind the project – to celebrate 700 years of the Percy family in Alnwick in 2009.

"It has been an incredible privilege to work on a project like this, so close to home," said Keith, whose life-like works in bronze can be found across Britain.

Keith was recently at Black Isle Bronze to complete welding the individual parts of Harry Hotspur together – a curious historical twist, since the real man was quartered by King Henry IV following his death, aged around 37, in the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.

Although he initially hoped to complete the statue by September 2009, the development trust eventually allowed the project to develop at its own pace because of the immense amount of detail in it.

Trust manager Geoff Watson said: "It has been quite a journey to get to this point, from Keith's own conceptual drawings, to a two-foot-high clay model, followed by the full-size clay and now the actual bronze. What he has achieved on his own is remarkable.

"He has not only worked very long hours on the statue itself, but carried out an immense amount of research."

Geoff travelled to Black Isle with Keith for the last stage of the work.

He said: "I was not quite sure what to expect, but I can honestly say that when I first saw the bronze Hotspur, it was jaw-dropping.

"It is just incredible in all aspects. The main reason we decided not to rush the project was that it was more important to get it absolutely right than aim for a false deadline.

"Keith has achieved that."

With his sword held aloft, Hotspur will stand 14-feet-high from foot to blade tip.

As well as the Duke of Northumberland's contribution, other funds have come from the former Alnwick District Council, the town council and business donations from Gentoo, as well as grants.

The site was chosen from a wide number of possible locations throughout Alnwick, because it offered a large area, free from traffic, where people could gather to view it.

Other options, such as next to the Bondgate Tower or the Market Place, were ruled out because of complex listed building regulations and potential conflict with vehicles.

Geoff added: "We realise that the statue will be visited by a lot of people, including groups of children, and this is a safe place to gather. We hope it will become a feature for the town."

 
 
 

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